Surprisingly, happiness lies in a blast of adverse weather
TODAY WAS THE SORT of January day we all dread – cold and grey, with north winds driving tiny needles of sleety rain hard into your face.
We don’t have the world’s harshest weather here in the north temperate zone but – trust me – today was horrible enough.
When you threw in the post-Christmas comedown, worrying rates of Covid infections, and the Government announcing another six-weeks of lockdown, it added up to the perfect excuse for just sitting around and feeling fed up.
It’s the shortest day today, which always means there’s light after the darkness
THERE’S BEEN a lorra lorra gnashing and wailing in the UK this week, after the Government did yet another U-turn and cancelled Christmas.
Faced with a highly infectious new coronavirus strain in London and the south east of England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned Christmas travel to and from the capital – and restricted festive visiting nationwide to December 25.
While no-one is arguing much with the need for stricter measures, pretty much everybody thinks the timing of Johnson’s announcement stinks.
Just days earlier, he had said it would be “inhuman” to deny Brits a proper Christmas after nine months of worry, sacrifice and hardship.
Yet the announcement did precisely that, coming just as millions were putting presents under the tree for relatives who now won’t be able to open them – and buying Christmas treats that now can’t be shared with loved ones.
I spent my birthday cycling across London in the rain, so I could cycle up a hill in the rain
IN THIS CORONAVIRUS year, I’m particularly ticked off with my parents for giving me a November birthday.
Trying to party in November is as daunting as entertaining young children in the dreaded February half term: for starters, the days are short and dark, and everybody’s mildly depressed from lack of Vitamin D.
It’s cold and wet, the leaves are off the trees and slushing up the pavements, and no-one can bear it outside for long. So, unless you want to hunker down for hours in a pricey café, or brave the insane crowds at the free museums and art galleries, you’re fucked.
But at least in February, we have the option of paying through the nose for our fun. This lockdown November – with no pubs or restaurants, cinemas or museums, shops or art galleries to celebrate in – I began to worry that it might be my worst birthday ever.
Back in the day, we would have got by very nicely on smoked salmon, bagels, fizzy wine and a day spent entirely in bed. But I’m 55 now, not 25 and – anyway – the kids are here, working from home.
So I threw my leg over the bike, instead. I spent my birthday riding across London in the rain, so I could ride up a hill in the rain.
Running is The Dogs when it comes to Mindfulness, IMHO
In my day job, I’ve been writing a lot about Mindfulness lately.
Now that we’re all preparing for a second, six-month lockdown – panic-booking Ocado slots, stockpiling the Cushelle before it goes back on the ration – it’s understandable that we’re also after some mental reinforcement to see us sanely through the dark days ahead.
So, having exhausted my usual array of mental sandbags on the first surge, I’ve gone back to Mindfulness after a break of almost three years.
I’ve dusted down the old Guided Meditation CD, sat in the same chair with my eyes closed and assumed the familiar pose, supposedly embodying a sense of strength and curiosity.
I spent 20 minutes noticing my breathing and the noises around me, trying to sit quietly with any troubling thoughts that popped into my head.
And it was all right. In fact, it was much the same as it was when I last gave it up: at least I was doing something to combat stress and getting a bit of restful ‘me’ time’.
But one of the thoughts that did occur to me was: “This isn’t as good as running.”
I’m depressed again, but I don’t need happy pills. I just need to run more.
I’ve been feeling depressed again recently, for the first time in a long while.
I had a knockback at work which – as is my wont – I took quite badly.
And then, there was the end of summer. After the heatwave in mid-August, there were weeks of unseasonal, autumnal storms and heavy rain. I started to sense the short dark days and the long black nights a-coming. And I didn’t like it.
It’s all very well clapping them every Thursday night, but why not thank key workers properly when the Coronavirus storm blows over?
AT THE END of World War One, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George promised to build 500,000 new homes as a reward for the sacrifices ordinary people had made.
Only 200,000 of them were completed, but for many of those lucky enough to move into a new home, it was their first experience of electricity, running water, bathrooms, indoor toilets and gardens.
By 1939, more than a million council houses had been built across the UK, and in 1948 – three years after victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two – the Government again thanked people for their fortitude with the creation of the National Health Service (applause!).
The Coronavirus pandemic is perhaps the greatest challenge to face this country – and the world – since the 1940s, with ordinary people likes nurses, care home workers and bus drivers again at the forefront of the fight.
When all of this has blown over – and we look at ways of saying ‘Thank You’ to our key workers – we could do worse than building them somewhere decent to live again.